We are living in a time when almost everyone you talk to is pretending to be non-judgmental. Which is silly. We do judge. It’s in our nature as human beings. Judgment keeps us alive. So: Instead of pretending not to judge, why don’t we learn to judge better?
Why is judgment essential for growth?
When you were a fresh little life, just learning to live in the world, you learned a few things quickly. Things like don’t touch a hot burner on the stove. You may remember this, even today. When you touched the hot burner, it hurt. You didn’t want to do that again.
The same principle applies as you go on through life. If you get burned by someone or by some situation, you don’t want to keep doing that, right?
But here’s the tricky part. When you were a kid, the lessons were pretty simple, like don’t touch the hot burner. But as you get older and more experienced with living, the lessons become more subtle.
An Easy Example
For example: You know better than to look at porn.
You know that when you do, you have a good chance of infecting your computer with a virus; you may get caught in the act; you may forget to clear your cookies after viewing so you get caught later.
The list of reasons for not look at porn are long (including: after you’re done, you’re not really satisfied). And yet, you think: I can outsmart the system. I can have just a little peek and no one will be the wiser. (You do know that your search engine information is discoverable forever, right?)
To the point: Even though you know better, your judgment is poor when it comes to porn.
There are other examples you can think of pretty quickly. Areas where your judgment is underdeveloped.
But why is your judgment so underdeveloped?
Because you haven’t developed the muscle.
Let’s make an analogy to your physical body.
You know that exercise is good for you. Exercise has many benefits, including that it makes your body strong and agile. And confidence comes over time as you workout. You actually feel better in your body as you develop your muscles through repeated exercise.
The same is true of judgment. Your judgment needs regular exercise to become strong and agile.
You’ve been fed a line that says you shouldn’t judge. Everywhere you listen, people are saying you should be non-judgmental. And you follow the party line so as to not stick out as a toxic male.
But where can you learn to judge in a healthy way, so that you develop the judgment muscle?
Listen. Read. Honest Peers.
A recent article in the Harvard Business Review says that men with the best leadership skills (both personal and in leading others) develop their judgment muscle from three main sources:
Become an excellent listener: this includes listening well to others, and listening well to yourself.
Read extensively: stretch your learning through a solid collection of authors, who think and write well, and whose judgment you trust.
Get into an honest peer group: get together with other people you trust, who will tell you what they think, not just what you want to hear.
Even while others may pretend that non-judgment is healthy, the better route is to learn to judge well.